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Macau

Canadian consulate sells luxury Hong Kong home, but not to fugitive Joseph Lau

Consulate spokesman insists sale was conducted in a fair and transparent manner and house went to the highest of several bidders

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2016, 8:10pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 June, 2016, 8:26pm

Fugitive tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung has failed in his bid to buy a luxury villa in Jardine’s Lookout owned by the Canadian consulate general.

The Canadian consulate sidestepped questions about whether Lau’s conviction over a high-profile bribery case in Macau was a factor but said the property was sold through open tender to “ensure best value for Canada”.

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The 5,809 square foot house at No 6 Goldsmith Road was sold to Derby Development for HK$505 million, according to Land Registry data. The price was some 16 per cent below the HK$600 million assessed value.

Lau, former chairman of Chinese Estates, was understood to be one of the bidders for the 59-year-old house.

Lau bought another house at No 5 Goldsmith Road for HK$460 million, or HK$57,827 per square foot, which was a square foot record price in 2011. It was reported at the time that he gave the house as a gift to his three-year-old daughter.

A spokesman for the Canadian consulate said the villa in Jardine’s Lookout was the official residence of the consul general and was owned by the Canadian government.

“A public, open, fair and transparent process was employed to ensure best value for Canada and multiple offers were received. Canada has accepted an offer under established sales terms as part of the tender process.”

“The property was simply sold to the highest bid,” said sources, dismissing speculation there was any connection with Lau’s background.

A spokesman for Lau was unavailable for comment.

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Derby Development has three directors including Ching Tak-wai, who is vice-president of MGM Resorts International. Pansy Ho, daughter of casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun, chairs MGM Resorts. She is also managing director of Shun Tak Holdings.

Lau was convicted in absentia of bribery and money-laundering charges in Macau in 2014 and was sentenced to five years and three months in prison. He has not served any time in jail as there is no legal accord with Macau on ­extradition arrangements. .

He was named in 2012 in connection with the corruption trial of former Macau transport and public works minister Ao Man-long in relation to the acquisition of land in Macau for a luxury residential project.

The site was granted to Moon Ocean, a business subsequently acquired by Chinese Estates while Ao was still in office.

Ao, who was in office between 1999 and 2006, is currently serving 29 years in jail over a multi-million-dollar corruption scandal.

Additional reporting by Ng Kang-chung